Small & Smart

There is an understandable fear that if we shrink the human body we might lose part of our brain capacity. With a projected head size of only 6 x 4,5 centimeters tall it’s an obvious concern. One of the possible solutions we’ve reported on in a previous post, is outsourcing most of our brain capacity to the web. But such a process would require elementary evolutionary adaptations of the brain. Perhaps such drastic solutions are not necessary. Researcher Donald Platt, who has a professional interest in the possibilities of shrinking animals to prepare for space colonization, sees another path. Platt writes:

“ I feel the IGF1 pathway as well as growth hormone is a good place to start when thinking about smaller organisms.  An important factor in maintaining viability is shrinking cell size not cell number.  This, I believe, can help to maintain functionality for organs such as lungs and the brain at very small size. Research work has also shown an imprinted gene pathway that may define an organism size from the time it is an embryo. This pathway may be able to be modulated by zinc finger protein modification combined with RNAi techniques. I think a multiple gene pathway approach will be most successful.”

Most matter consists of empty space. If you could take away the empty space, all the subatomic particles in the seven billion people on earth would pack into a volume a little larger than a grain of rice. It may be how we design and re-arrange the vast nano-emptiness of our cells that will decide our future.

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  1. Michael Kulik,

    This is an interesting hypothesis of how we could retain our current brain capacity at a smaller level. Couldn’t we also consider the fact that not all of our brain is used (1) , and for a lot of things the brain does, there may be parts that we could easily lose (2). In the evolutionary realm, it could be parallelled to the early computers being the size of a large room, and now a computer 1000x as fast are 1000x smaller as well. I can imagine our brain is not at its most optimise state. Ants seem to do ok with little else than chemicals.

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